Sunday, April 22, 2018

Improbable Cause - Family Breakdown leads to 3 murders

I read this sad story in the Toronto Star this week.   It is yet another example of how the legacy of Family Breakdown can drive otherwise normal people to extreme and deadly actions - in this case the shocking death of a divorced Dad (Caleb Harrison) and his supportive elderly parents - Bill and Bridget Harrison.

We do not learn much of the legal challenges encountered but it seems a crisis in the Medical Examiner community contributed to poor procedures and communications by Police and Forensic Pathologists contributed to missed opportunities to identify a killer.

It is a long article but essentially it boils down to this:
  • The mysterious death of a single Dad (Caleb) triggers a re-appraisal of 2 other recent deaths of his parents.
  • These deaths were considered odd and suspicious by Family at the time but little effort by Police were made to investigate.   Part of the reason for this failure was lack of communications with and clear procedures in place by the Provincial Medical Examiners.
  • There was a crisis atmosphere at the Ontario ME Office as the first death of Caleb's dad Bill (not at first considered "suspicious") coincided with the discovery of a rotten Pathologist Charles Smith. (I Smith was found to have provided false and defamatory evidence in many cases leading to a wholesale review of all his cases and overhaul of the Ontario Medical Examiners Office.
  • The previous odd deaths were first Caleb's dad - Bill - soon followed by his mother Bridget after Caleb and secured a Divorce from his ex-wife Mellissa.  
  • During both deaths (not considered murders) there was alot of turmoil  between Caleb and his ex-wife Melissa over custody of their son and other issues.
  • Once Caleb died and it was clear thats it was murder - it set in motion a review of how and why his parents died.  With Caleb's ex-wife - Melissa Merritt - and her new husband, Chris Fattore - the prime suspects.   
  • While under surveillance they provided evidence that eventually lead to their conviction - although much was deemed "tainted" by Police actions - both were sentenced to 25 yrs in jail
Caleb Harrison was found dead in his Mississauga home on Aug. 23, 2013

PDF of article

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